Beginner’s Guide: What Does Wine Taste Like?


98% of the wine is composed of water and alcohol, both of which are tasteless. The authentic taste of this drink stems from the remaining 2%, and the exquisite techniques of winemaking have bequeathed us with a massive range to choose from. Wine sommeliers, (experts at tasting wine), undergo years and years of training, spending thousands of dollars on education and tuition. But most of us are not going to receive any formal or informal training in how to taste and judge wine.

Thankfully, this article will guide you through the appropriate steps to getting to the bottom of your wine (pun intended), and knowing exactly what is in it. It will go into the differences between, firstly, cheap vs good quality wine, and secondly, red wine vs white wine. It also explores how the taste is influenced by various factors and the most appropriate way to experience wine in the way that its creator intended.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of what wine tastes like, we’re excited to share that this post is sponsored by Amazon Audible! They are offering all of our Wine on My Time community an exclusive offer of 2 FREE Ebooks when signing up for a free trial— click here to sign up! Now you can sip you wine and read your books in the tub like a boujee pro.

Okay… back to red and white wines!

How to ‘Experience’ Wine

Each white and red wine has its signature taste, and to figure out what distinguishes one brand from another, it is essential to know how exactly to taste wine. Tasting wine is about much more than merely sipping it and judging it based on first impressions. Everything from the color of the wine, the design of the bottle, our mood and disposition, and to the process of production, all influence the way we taste wine.

While the color and aroma of wine are good indicators of what exactly it is made of, there are specific ways of tasting a wine that enables you to experience it fully. Swirl your red and white wine a few times before taking a swig to aerate the drink. Notice if some drops stay on the side of the glass even after the wine isn’t in contact with that part. If they do, the alcohol is likely stronger than normal and lends what is called a ‘body’ to the wine. This is essentially how heavy this wine is on your palate.

After Taking a Sip

Glide the wine over the different parts of your tongue, and along your cheeks. Try to let in some air through your mouth while doing this step. Aeration might take some practice, but it will change the way a wine tastes to you. Another thing to remember about consuming wine is that it needs to spend a fair amount of time in your mouth. This is because the taste of wine changes over time.

After Feeling the Wine in Your Mouth

Try to chew it. Yes… chew! Chewy wines are usually high in tannin, a chemical that is added to wines to make them taste drier. However, too much tannin can make you feel thirsty and render the wine too bitter. Once you think you’ve had enough, swallow the wine and savor the aftertaste over the few seconds when it passes down your throat. This is another period where a wine tastes different at the start and end.

Things to Look Out for While Tasting Wine

Despite the flavoring ingredients comprising only 2% of the white and red wine, this seemingly small quantity can contain a wide variety of notes and elements. Good wine is usually one that has a good balance of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter elements. Tannin, as mentioned, is usually the source of bitterness in the wine. Saltiness is rare, although spicy is a common adjective for wine, believe it or not.

The sweetness and the acidity (sourness) of the wine are its key components. A good way to tell how acidic a wine is to observe whether it generates saliva. If it does, it is acidic.

Another characteristic of good wine is that its various notes aren’t distinct, but rather blended in some proportion. Young wines typically struggle with this quality, but a good winemaker will be able to induce subtlety upon some of the flavors of his wine.

Lastly, a sure-fire way of telling if a wine hasn’t been made well is to note whether it tastes of vegetables. The taste of some, like mushroom and celery, are common, but anything else is usually indicative of some mistake.

Differentiating Between the Taste of White and Red Wine

There are two factors that most fundamentally influence the difference in taste between white and red wine. The first has to do with the type of grapes used to make either drink.

Unsurprisingly, white grapes are used for white wine, while red grapes are utilized in red wine. These ‘white’ grapes are not white. They are greenish-yellowish, sometimes even pinkish.

Besides the color of the grapes, white wine is generally made only from the grape juice that is pressed out before fermentation. Red wine is made from the complete grape, including skin and seeds, and is allowed to ferment. This is partly behind the traditionally bitter taste of red wine, while white wines are fruitier because they do not contain tannins, which are derived from the skin of grapes.

Studies have found that generally, those who aren’t trained in wine tasting find it hard to distinguish between the two wines. However, experienced tasters and sommeliers can indeed pinpoint differences between wines. As such, expensive wine isn’t the scam, many think it is, and there is indeed a difference between a $10 bottle and a $1000 one.

Wine Tasting is an Art

What white and red wine tastes like is entirely dependent on the way you consume the drink. No amount of description can do justice to the way specific wines feel on your tongue, whose tastebuds are aligned in unique ways.

This article has covered some of the primary ways to better experience both red and white wine. This involves spending a decent amount of time feeling the texture and ingredients of the beverage on your tongue, and along your cheeks. In the process, you will notice herbs, spices, peppers, maybe vegetables, and much more. Sommeliers go to great lengths to ensure that not even perfume or even specific foods interfere with the rich flavors of exquisite wines.

As always, practice will lead to gradual improvement, and once you start tasting different wines frequently, you will notice the subtle variations in combinations across drinks of different brands!

Ready to start your journey of becoming a wine sommelier, now that you understand the concept of experiencing wine? We’re heading to the liquor store right now to grab some bottles to practice with!

If you can enlighten us with some additional wine- tasting- tips, drop a comment down below. Help your fellow wine- lovers out!

For further wine-enhancing tips, check out our articles on What is Fortified Wine and How to Use a Wine Opener Like a Pro.

Thanks for reading! If you’re a wine lover like us (of course you are) check us out on Pinterest for a daily dose of wine content.

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